Let’s use this momentum and build a better future for football

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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135 Have your say

    Congratulations to the Socceroos and Ange Postecoglou, who united a nation – for one night at least – and belatedly booked a ticket to the World Cup in Russia after 22 gruelling games.

    Having worked so hard to qualify, it would be a travesty not to see Postecoglou pacing the technical area with a trademark scowl on his face in Russia.

    This is his team, and despite all the criticism about tinkering with formations and personnel, it’s a team that was good enough to take one of just 32 places on offer at the World Cup finals.

    It’s not every day that countries like Italy, the Netherlands and Chile would do anything to trade places with Australia, and the significance of the Socceroos qualifying for a fourth successive World Cup shouldn’t be underestimated.

    As we saw with New Zealand’s disappointing defeat to Peru in Lima, reaching the World Cup finals is much easier said than done.

    But where does the game go from here, now that the hard slog of actually reaching Russia has finally been accomplished?

    The first thing Football Federation Australia needs to do is sort out Postecoglou’s future.

    David Gallop and Steven Lowy were quick to make themselves seen in the post-game celebrations, but maybe what they should have been concentrating on was patching things up with Postecoglou instead.

    Ange Postecoglou Football Australia Socceroos 2017

    That’s because there’s not going to be a better coaching alternative available who understands the Australian game and is willing to take charge at reasonably short notice.

    And Postecoglou himself would do well to remember what’s at stake here.

    He may well have already lined up a club gig in Europe, but then he may also never get another chance to do exactly what he said he would do – namely turn the Socceroos from a team just happy to be at the tournament into a genuine World Cup force.

    The FFA should also strike while the iron is hot and line up a big name European nation to take on in Australia’s pre-World Cup farewell friendly.

    England has already announced it will play both Italy and the Netherlands in World Cup warm-up games, and they’re the pedigree of opponent the FFA should be looking to entice to Australia – not just to give the Socceroos a decent test, but also to help replenish the coffers through ticket sales.

    To that end, the $10 million cheque FIFA will hand over to the FFA just for qualifying for the finals should help a governing body said to be running worryingly low on cash.

    Where on earth does all the money generated by football in Australia go?

    That’s a question all ten A-League clubs have been asking for quite some time now.

    Their mood won’t have been helped by the astonishing news that Western Sydney’s clash with Wellington Phoenix at Spotless Stadium on Saturday afternoon has been postponed.

    A press release which landed in inboxes at 5:30pm yesterday afternoon blamed the postponement on the failure of the stadium’s grass to grow – seriously! – but as some Wanderers fans pointed out on Twitter following the shock announcement, Spotless Stadium is also set to host a music festival next week which will reputedly take a week to set up.

    And herein lies one of the biggest problems facing the game today.

    It’s not just that A-League clubs are forced to play out of multi-purpose venues – and are consistently treated as second-class citizens for the privilege – it’s the fact that very few in the Australian game seem to have the right connections and requisite gravitas to stand up for the sport.

    Postecoglou has it, yet he’s just spent the better part of two years at war with his own employers for daring to speak out of turn.

    The FFA Congress on November 30 may ultimately separate the wheat from the chaff.

    ‘Normalisation’ is something many are hoping for, but right now we’d all simply settle for a little bit of momentum.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (135)

    • November 17th 2017 @ 7:56am
      not so super said | November 17th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      i was assured tat non qualification wouldnt be a problem or affect the popularity of football in Australia. However qualification means momentum and bigger things. Glass isnt half full, its over flowing

    • November 17th 2017 @ 8:04am
      AGO74 said | November 17th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      I hope Ange’s future is sorted out before World Cup draw. I suspect now that qualification has been achieved some of the pressure he would no doubt have been putting on himself is relieved from Ange’s shoulders and he may have a greater clarity of mind and purpose to finish the job.

      It’s an interesting one because whilst there is no doubt political and personality differences between Ange and the FFA I think it is fair to say at least that the FFA despite whatever their differences are have backed him with the resources – charter flights, sports science, basing Ante Milicic in Europe etc.

      I hope Ange stays on. there has been some fair and reasonable discussion by fans as to the the tactics and systems employed by Ange and Ive agreed with some of the criticism he has received. That said what is very clear is that the players are behind him and want him there. It would be a shame now to have to start that whole process all over again by looking for a new coach six months out from the World Cup. He’s earned the right to take us to the World Cup – it’d be a shame to see him leave now purely because of politics/personality.

    • November 17th 2017 @ 8:12am
      marcel said | November 17th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      FFA just spent $1m flying the team home…in the last 10 years I haven’t heard a single mention of any Socceroos team being anything less than lavishly provided for….some of us remember a day when some players paid their own airfares to a qualifier.

      If there is a war between the coach and the executive ..only one side is fighting it.

      • November 17th 2017 @ 8:52pm
        Kenny said | November 17th 2017 @ 8:52pm | ! Report

        I wonder if the the FFA provide the same sort of luxury for our national women’s team the Matilda’s I doubt it

        • November 18th 2017 @ 10:36am
          Fadida said | November 18th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

          Would the Matildas get $10 million for making their WC? FFA are investing

        • November 19th 2017 @ 1:13am
          Mitcher said | November 19th 2017 @ 1:13am | ! Report

          Why would you even wonder that. Of course they wouldn’t. Pretty fair and logical explanation from the commenter above.

        • November 20th 2017 @ 2:53pm
          KJ said | November 20th 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

          Also, have the Matildas ever had a home and away crunch qualifier with such a significant distance and such a short turnaround?

          I am a massive fan of promoting the women’s game and creating equality as much as possible, understanding the constraints identified above, however this flight is a very rare situation for both the men and the women.

    • November 17th 2017 @ 8:13am
      hogdriller said | November 17th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      “Where on earth does all the money generated by football in Australia go?”…………….easy.

      Try the FFA’s apparent team of ten executives pocketing a half million dollar salary each, every year.

      • November 17th 2017 @ 1:33pm
        vin said | November 17th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

        6 of the 10 executives are over 1 million each per year, outstanding for a non profit organisation.

        greedy Lowys, if you loved the game so much you wouldn’t be hiring execs for this amount of money, i would volunteer to do it for free.

        • November 17th 2017 @ 2:45pm
          Redsback said | November 17th 2017 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

          Market vale, Vin. With their qualifications, skills and experience, it’s fair to say that, at least some of them, would be worth that amount of money. With the greatest respect, your value might be closer to the amount you offered. Indeed, I would suggest that if they got you for free, they would probably be losing money. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

          The real question is whether they need so many people with that market value running things.

          • November 17th 2017 @ 3:38pm
            Nick Symonds said | November 17th 2017 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

            “Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.”

            The Socceroos are at around 250-1 to win the World Cup which would be a pretty good return on investment. Maybe FFA have a secret bank account in the Cayman Islands and the difficult qualifying route has been part of their master plan all along. They did quite well against Chile. Why did they “struggle” so much against so many weaker teams? I reckon they’re a lot stronger than they’re letting on. Just a theory.

            Also, on the topic of gambling, maybe A-League attendances would be higher if people spent less money betting on matches and spent more actually going to them.

      • November 19th 2017 @ 8:53am
        LuckyEddie said | November 19th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        And remember most of the bottom feeders are not even football people, most are into football for the overseas trips.

    • November 17th 2017 @ 8:16am
      punter said | November 17th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      Thanks Mike.

      Ok we (those who look at things a little differently) have had our 1 day of glory.

      Now, let’s go Fadida & the rest, I’m ready for the debate.

      Let me remind you of my stance

      I agree that we do not have the players (my argument is we never have & never will if we don’t change).
      I agree we did not play any top line football opposition (Japan aside) in our qualifying campaign, however, the travels, the weather, the pitches the different cultures etc, does make it a bit tougher then just the opposition.
      I agree selections were dubious & Ange was at times very rigid at current game management in his strong stance to do it his way. I too have yelled ‘just clear it’.

      We are in transition, we have for 40 years played a similar (please I say similar, a more direct, physical game) style to how either Ireland recently played in their WC qualifiers. Transition takes time & transition also hurts, even more so when you don’t have the cattle.

      We have qualified for the WC, missing direct qualification on goal difference, missing topping group by 1 pt (Thailand away our waterloo), we nearly missed qualification by the width of a post (but as Fadida says, he nearly dated Kate Moss. All this trying to play football on the ground, with weird & confusing formations & all the while not using our best asset enough, ‘lovely cross there & Cahill, yes what a legend’.

      Let’s go.

      • November 17th 2017 @ 9:01am
        stu said | November 17th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

        I am becoming less and less convinced that the holy grail of an ‘Australian style of play’ is doable.
        AP has been trumpeting this since he took on the role.
        When in charge of the roar, he had them week in week out, all played to the pipers tune like clockwork, as it should be.
        As national coach, does the experimental piper really work when taking 11 players playing to the tune of 11pipers week in week out.
        Does the national team role become one of player management based on the Players strengths and how they play rather than trying to re-invent the wheel, that is to radically change how all 11 are currently ‘programmed’ to play week in week out.
        I think AP had the blinkers on and thought he could transition from club coaching to national team coaching without any calibration.
        I have said before, he hit on something at the roar that worked and perhaps even surprised him. The die was cast and he could not move outside that square perhaps due to lack of ability.

        • November 17th 2017 @ 9:08am
          Nemesis said | November 17th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

          It’s definitely doable.

          It’s happening at senior level for the Women’s National Team.
          It’s happening at u16/u17 & u19/u20 level for the Men’s National Teams.. and even saw it at u23 level under Gombau.

          The u16 Women’s National Team were less impressive, but that’s ok. They finished 4th in Asia & just missed out on a place at the u17 Women’s World Cup in France 2018.

          • November 17th 2017 @ 10:30am
            Nemesis said | November 17th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

            Slight amendment.. it was not the u16 AUS Women’s team I watched last month but the u19 women’s team who finished 4th in Asia & missed the u20 WWC in France 2018.

          • November 17th 2017 @ 11:10am
            Brian said | November 17th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

            what are you on about?
            In 1991 and 1993 we made the World Cup semi-finals at U20 level. At Olympic U23 level we made the quarters in 1988 and semis in 1992. Now we don’t even make it out of Asia at these levels. Some revolution

            Ange has led us nowhere. He keeps talking about some Australian way as if he is going to come up with something no one has done before. Netherlands, Italy & Chile didn’t make it because they don’t get our cushy run.

            Will we surprise at the Cup, we could be plucky like the Swedes playing to our strengths. Instead will play tiki taka and I’ll be grateful and amazed if we win a game

            • November 17th 2017 @ 11:26am
              Nemesis said | November 17th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

              Don’t know how old you are, but the world was a different place in 1988, 1991, 1993.

              Most countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, Central America & South America had much more pressing concerns than sport.

              • November 17th 2017 @ 11:36am
                Brian said | November 17th 2017 @ 11:36am | ! Report

                All that world turmoil seemed to end when Ange became our youth coach and we lost to Laos or whoever it was.

                Look no doubt Ange was fantastic at club level moulding the roar. However NT is working with what you have not trying to invent thigns that aren’t there. Ange could make a real good go of it at another club, just not a NT.

              • November 18th 2017 @ 6:27pm
                j,binnie said | November 18th 2017 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

                Nem – 1988 – Argentine won World Cup:(1986)
                1991- Germany won World Cup (1990):,,
                1993- Brazil won World Cup (1994).
                The point you are trying to make????? Cheers jb.

            • November 17th 2017 @ 11:30am
              Lionheart said | November 17th 2017 @ 11:30am | ! Report

              1991 and 1993? and New Zealand qualifies for pretty much every tournament there is. Maybe we should play the NZ way.

              • November 17th 2017 @ 1:35pm
                vin said | November 17th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                The point Brian is trying to make is the massive amount of investment the FFA has made to youth football has made no improvement except gone backwards, we are losing to teams with no ciriculum and no spend in football, poor nations.

              • November 17th 2017 @ 1:44pm
                Nemesis said | November 17th 2017 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

                “we are losing to teams with no ciriculum and no spend in football, poor nations.”

                I guarantee if we played in Oceania we would be qualifying for every FIFA u20 WC, u17 World Cup & Olympic Games.

                Maybe, try watching a few u17, u20, u23 Asian Championships and make up your own mind, rather than just parrot what you read from media who don’t watch the games but just look at the results.

              • November 17th 2017 @ 2:44pm
                vin said | November 17th 2017 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

                i grew up and played youth league in the 90’s when coaching of all styles was aloud and we weren’t tied up to a ciriculum like it is now and we are producing robot players that just pass the ball instead of promoting individual talent.

                we used to smash teams in asia back now but if you look now we lose to them, some like Japan and Korea have advanced but you cant tell me we shouldnt be able to beat them with the 10x times of money we now spend on youth
                i dont listen to any media mate nor do i cut and paste.

              • November 17th 2017 @ 2:52pm
                Nemesis said | November 17th 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

                “we used to smash teams in asia”

                I must admit I didn’t watch a lot of Youth Football back in the day, apart from the Youth World Cup I don’t recall qualifiers ever been broadcast.

                So, if you could point me to the years when we smashed teams in Asia at Youth Level, I’ll have a look at the results on Google..

          • Roar Rookie

            November 17th 2017 @ 2:16pm
            Brendo51 said | November 17th 2017 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

            Is it really happening at U16 – U20 level for the mens? I have watched quite a few of these games and we continually get exposed by our poor passing, continually caught on the counter.

            Yes we look good against the Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei level teams of Asia but once we get to the finals and face the better teams in Asia we are finding it very hard to score across all age levels and leaking too many goals.

            I am yet to see any evidence that the “technical” revolution is bearing fruit and would be very happy to be shown evidence otherwise.

            Late last year our Under 19 failed to make it our of their group for the Under 19 AFC Championship. Our Under 16 Team also late last year not only failed to make it out of the group in the Under 16 AFC Championship, they failed to win or draw a single match. Losing to Kyrgyzstan (0-1), Vietnam (2-3) and Japan (0-6).

            Early next year our Under 23s head to China for the AFC U23 Championship, a tournament that they last time we attended we couldn’t even make out of our group (see a bit of a theme here). Will be interesting to see how they go this time. We also have the U19 and U16 Championships later in the year.

            • November 17th 2017 @ 2:39pm
              Nemesis said | November 17th 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

              What you say is true about the most recent past AFC Championships for u16 & u19.

              But, go back a further tournament and at the u17 2015 World Cup, AUS

              – Beat Argentina
              – Drew with Mexico, who finished 4th in the tournament
              – Lost to Germany

              – lost to Nigeria, who ended up Champions of the World at u17

              I saw the u16 lads play good formation, touch, movement during 2018 AFC Qualifiers & finish top of Group. Now we have to reproduce at AFC Championship level.

              I didn’t see the u19 qualifiers, but the results suggest we did the job well. Again, the test comes at the next stage of u19 AFC Championship.

      • November 17th 2017 @ 9:45am
        punter said | November 17th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        It has to be doable, if we are to ever to make a mark in world football, we have to change our style & as Nemesis mentioned, this is already being done in our junior teams.
        Ange has a certain style, now do I agree with all his formations, playing style, well no, but I back him, however what he is doing is forcing Australian to play football on the ground. Now football tactics, formations continue to evolve, but the basic need Australia needs more then anything else, is improve our first touch, improve our vision in tight situations to be able to transfer the ball asap. Some of the best teams in the world, probe & probe until they can find an opening, the greater teams (Germany, Real Madrid) can do this at pace.

        However, before all this we have to develop players who are comfortable on the ball, we do not yet produce those sort of players (at least in large numbers). At no time in Australian history has Australia ever had 3 creative midfield players of such quality Mooy, Rogic & Luongo with this ability. Okon, Zelic & Bresciano the closest I’ve seen, not sure they played together & with Okon & Zelic, made their names more as creative defenders.

        Leckie is fast, strong & huge engine & some nice technique, but lacks a first touch & decision making is poor. Kruse makes smart runs, smarter then anyone we have in Australia, but has poor goal scoring record, easily pushed off ball & again poor decision making. Juric, big strong, skillful, poor goal scoring issues. Jedinak. captain courageous, dead ball specialist, great defenisve midfielder, terrible ball distributor, slow & not comfortable on the ball. t goes on & on.

        • November 17th 2017 @ 10:18am
          Redondo said | November 17th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

          Great summary.

        • Roar Guru

          November 17th 2017 @ 11:01am
          Ben of Phnom Penh said | November 17th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

          I was discussing the issue of ‘national styles’ with some Danes last night. One thing that they appear pleased with is their coach, who is a Norwegian, seems to understand the need for Danes to play a more ‘head-on’ style, deal with issues immediately, which matches their broader national personality traits more than the previous style under Olsen of strategic patience.

          Styles that match the cutlural genetics of teams matters as players understand it inately rather than having to be coached into the style; something that matters when coaches have limited time with national squads.

          • November 17th 2017 @ 11:10am
            punter said | November 17th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

            I cannot disagree with you there. With the Danes it does help when they can also produce brilliant players like Eriksen & in previous days Laudrup brothers.

            Have a look at our golden generation, we were blessed with 2 pretty special players & then add then strong work ethic & strong will to win mentality, loving to punching above our weight which produced players like Cahill, Neill, Moore, Grella, Bresc, Chippers.

            Now imagine the Aussie traits that Jedinak & Leckie provides with abundance but also who are comfortable on the ball & has a killer 1st touch.

          • November 17th 2017 @ 11:18am
            Brian said | November 17th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report


            BUT we are not going to get the first touch of Colombia, Croatia or Portugal. Unless you get kids playing football at ages 1-5 its just not going to happen. Any successful Australian way is going to be physical,

            look at how Iceland and Sweden qualified both playing 4-4-2. Oh shock horror they played how they know. If Sweden had tried to out-posses Italy they would have had zero chance.

        • November 17th 2017 @ 2:23pm
          Fadida said | November 17th 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

          Good post Punter. We aren’t that far apart in what we want

          • November 18th 2017 @ 9:43am
            punter said | November 18th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

            Never thought we were far apart, just different thinking on how Ange is performing, although most of your criticism I see justified, it’s just the positives are a little misplaced. I’m a believer in constructive criticism, not criticism for the sake of it, we have many AFL supporters coming on doing that we don’t need to do it ourselves. Many ‘football’ fans on here only like to criticise.

            As Foz said, it’s great to debate on formations, selections, playing styles (mixing it up, possession, direct), but it would be a debacle to go away from the possession football we are currently trying to play.
            Being at the game on Wed night, the amount fans another backward pass or screaming out ‘the goal is that way’ shows many are still wanting the more direct route.

            • November 18th 2017 @ 6:52pm
              j,binnie said | November 18th 2017 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

              Punter – Possession football has two main aims based on pretty understandable ideas.

              (1) If your team has possession the other team can’t score goals. That is obvious.
              (2) To score goals (the aim of the game) your team first has to get possession and then add “finishing”.
              So what is the difference between “possession football” and “penetration football”?

              Penetration is achieved by the sum of those two reasons above. Firstly, having got possession from an opponent, the quicker a team can get to the opponents goal area and then attempt a “finish” , is necessary, before the opponent has time to reorganise into what could be termed a “defensive structure”.

              Over the years (dare I suggest 1926) it has been found that the “safest” way to do this is through fast accurate movement of man and ball, cutting down the chances of either “manual” or “accidental” intervention by the opponent , and resulting in a successful attempt at goal.

              The debate rages around whether “beautiful football” is played by “holding possession for possession’s sake” or is it “getting the ball from one end to another as fast as possible resulting in an attempt at goal.”. Leave it to you. Cheers jb.

              • November 18th 2017 @ 7:39pm
                Fadida said | November 18th 2017 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

                Has to be possession with a purpose jb. Sometimes that means 20 passes to create a chance, sometimes 5.

              • November 18th 2017 @ 11:15pm
                j,binnie said | November 18th 2017 @ 11:15pm | ! Report

                Fadida – That is the way WE play, 20 passes to create 1 chance.
                Now to your “sometimes 5” ending.,
                Many years ago a Russian coach expounded the theory that if a team was playing good football and every man doing what he should do, the ball could be carried from a goalkeeper’s pass out to a central striker being able to have a shot at gold in 5 movements of the ball..
                This was an intriguing thought which if you think about is actually quite feasible.
                Goalkeeper to fullback,fullback to midfielder, midfielder to winger, winger to central striker , That’s 4 passes which if moved forward speedily,, and accurately, would only have the ball travelling about 80 metres,so, demanding 4 x 20 metre passes, not a “long ball” by anyone’s standards…
                Now although we seldom see this happening, mainly due to a misplaced pass, or a lazy player refusing to find working space, the theory has actually become the underlying ,ultimate aim, of every coaching manual.
                As I said, think about it for a moment. Cheers jb.

    • November 17th 2017 @ 8:25am
      JAJI said | November 17th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      I will be the first to admit the FFA is far from perfect – but Mike quotes above

      “it’s the fact that very few in the Australian game seem to have the right connections and requisite gravitas to stand up for the sport.”

      Well Mike if that is not the Lowy family anymore – what with their ability to have any sitting Prime Minister on speed dial – then who just is it? All these football journos out there haven’t suggested one solution just who takes over as Chairman of the FFA – an individual with the right connections with TV and Politics.

      Do we really want Greg Griffin running the show?

      On the topic of the new boss of the Socceroos – if Ange pulls the plug just wondering what the strategy is – a heavy hitter just for the next worlds cup and Asian cup – or someone long term for the next 4 years?

      If the latter who is that? Cant be Gombau or Poppa now – so that leaves GA?

      • November 17th 2017 @ 11:49am
        Pauly said | November 17th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        Gallop hinted recently that the next manager wouldn’t necessarily be Australian. Bert van Marwijk and Slaven Bilic are looking for gigs.

        • November 17th 2017 @ 4:05pm
          Fadida said | November 17th 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

          Their looking for gigs because they failed in their last ones

          • November 17th 2017 @ 4:48pm
            Fadida said | November 17th 2017 @ 4:48pm | ! Report


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